Michigan governor seeks $1M to end lunch shaming in schools

Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is seeking $1 million funds from the state to pay off the lunch debt of students whose parents haven’t paid their bills.

The Michigan governor proposal would also bar schools that receive money from this fund from stigmatizing students who have lunch debt.

According to the proposed school, practices such as forcing students with lunch debt to wear a wristband, hand stamp, or other identification, would be prohibited.

Also, acts like making students perform work to pay off meals, forcing a student to dump a meal after it was served, discussing a student’s debt in front of other students, or even talking directly to a student about the debt would be ban.

Notably, some school districts have attempted to address the lunch-shaming problem, but it came with some surprising results in at least one district.

Denver Public Schools announced in 2017 it would guarantee a full meal to all students, regardless of whether they had the money to pay, the amount of debt from unpaid lunches soared.

The Michigan governor $61.9B budget

Notably, the initiative is part of the Michigan governor’s $61.9 billion state budget, partly aimed at the development of the state education system.

Whitmer’s plan previously unveiled noted that it would boost overall spending by 3.9 percent.

It would also include a 5.8 percent increase in the general fund, as a result of spending pressures like Medicaid cost increases and declining fund revenues in the state’s health department budget.

According to the Michigan governor, the education sector would enjoy an increasing base per-student funding by $225 for most schools. She also proposes a $60 million boost for special education and a $60 million increase for academically at-risk and economically disadvantaged students.

The proposed plan also intends to give $250 to teachers for classroom supplies to recognize that many of them are spending their own money to have supplies for students.

Notably, the Michigan governor is also seeking funding for her proposed Reconnect program to provide tuition-free community college or technical training for nontraditional students age 25 and older without an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Other related programs

In a bid to prevent stigmatization at schools, Senate Majority Leader Jim Ananich introduced the “Hunger-Free Student Bill of Rights” legislation that would make lunch available to all students.

Last year, the Tennessee General Assembly proposed a bill, “the Tennessee Hunger-Free Students Act,” that would have required school districts to make every effort to enroll eligible students in the free- or reduced-price meal program.

Notably, several celebrities, philanthropists, and even children have also lent hands towards helping and preventing stigmatization of students with lunch debt.